Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Theses that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



perceptual narrowing, early experience, face perception, event-related potentials (ERPs)


In infancy, the ability to tell the difference between two faces within a category (e.g., species, race) that is infrequently experienced declines from 6 to 9 months of age (Kelly et al., 2009, 2007; Pascalis et al., 2005; Pascalis, de Haan, & Nelson, 2002; Scott & Monesson, 2009). This decline in the ability to distinguish faces is known as "perceptual narrowing" and has recently been found to be absent when infants are given experience matching a face with an individual-level proper name between 6 to 9 months of age (Scott & Monesson, 2009). Additionally, individual-level experience between 6 and 9 months of age has led to neural changes at 9 months of age (Scott & Monesson, 2010). It is currently unclear whether brief, early experience between 6 and 9 months leads to sustained behavioral advantages and lasting neural changes. In order to answer these questions, the current study recruited and tested children who previously participated in a face training study when they were infants (Scott & Monesson, 2009, 2010). Findings revealed that individual-level experience with faces during the first year of life: 1) resulted in faster reaction time for faces outside of the trained category, and 2) led to more adult-like neural representations of faces outside of the trained category 3-4 years later. These results suggest that experience with individual-level learning in the first year of life is generalized to visually similar, but environmentally relevant face categories.


First Advisor

Lisa S Scott